When Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster, America Roots Publishing's inaugural release, won the Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy, founder Tamara Saviano and VP Tom Frouge knew it would take something special to follow their launch project.
Thankfully, that inspiration was already in the family--Saviano's longtime client, friend and mentor Kris Kristofferson, whose songwriting--often overlooked in the fullness of his superstardom--defined the intersection of genuine poetry, human fragility and the quest for love, dignity and personal freedom.
With 18 songs spanning the breadth of Kristofferson's career - tendered by an expansive roster of artists across myriad genres (R&B's silken Brian McKnight caressing "Me & Bobby McGee," Latina songstress Marta Gomez embracing the humanistic protest of "The Circle" and Patti Griffin with Charanga Cakewalk on an austere "Sandinista," popfringe writers Lloyd Cole & Jill Sobule entangling "For The Good Times" and Oscar-winner Russell Crowe's heroistic turn on "Darby's Castle"), The Pilgrim offers testament to the truth, timelessness and timeliness of the former Rhodes Scholar, Country Music Hall of Famer and original Outlaw's work.
Starting with "family," Frouge and Saviano went to those closest: Rosanne Cash ("Lovin' Him Was Easier"), Willie Nelson ("The Legend"), Jessi Colter ("The Captive") and Shooter Jennings ("The Silver Tongued Devil & I") - and then expanded out to include old friends like Marshall Chapman ("Jesus Was A Capricorn"), Emmylou Harris ("The Pilgrim: Chapter 33), Texans in Rodney Crowell ("Come Sundown") and Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis ("Help Me Make It Through The Night") and Music Row rebels and refugees, worn for the wear but true believers in song Todd Snider ("Maybe You Heard"), Shawn Camp ("Why Me") and Gretchen Wilson ("Sunday Morning Coming Down").
Produced by Grammy-winner Randy Scruggs (Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 2), who contributes the breathtaking instrumental "Smile at Me Again," and featuring a 1970 demo from Kristofferson of "Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends," along with brilliantly written extensive liner notes by The Tennessean music writer Peter Cooper, The Pilgrim is a legacy of love.
Begun as a way to maintain the artistic standards and integrity of a burgeoning organization built on principles, not profit, their sophomore release quickly blossomed into something far more personal.